Braves 13, Cubs 3

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CHICAGO (AP)—With a strong wind turning lazy popups into long homers, Greg Maddux knew it could be a long day for pitchers.

It was, just not for Maddux.

Maddux pitched a solid six innings and the Braves hit three home runs to win their seven straight in a 13-3 victory over Chicago on breezy Thursday afternoon.

“The wind’s blowing out, you know that you’re going to give up a couple,” Maddux said. “You just try to stay out of the big inning and hope your team has one before they do.”

Atlanta had several to back Maddux (7-8).

With the game tied at 3, Cubs starter Shawn Estes (6-8) walked Gary Sheffield and Chipper Jones to lead off the sixth. After Andruw Jones struck out, Julio Franco and Castilla hit RBI singles. Franco then scored on Henry Blanco’s sacrifice fly to give Atlanta a 6-3 lead.

The Braves then broke open the game with three runs in the sixth and five more in the eighth.

Vinny Castilla homered, doubled twice and drove in four runs—falling a triple short of hitting for the cycle. Franco was 3-for-5 with an RBI and scored three runs.

“They beat us up pretty good,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “They scored the three runs, after that everything they hit was hard and found a hole.”

Atlanta added five more in the eighth on sacrifice flies by Castilla and Jones, and RBI singles by Marcus Giles and Sheffield.

“We got a little bit of everything today,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “You knew it was going to be a day when someone scored a lot of runs because the wind was blowing out.”

Rafael Furcal led off the game with a home run and Blanco hit a two-run shot in the ninth.

It was the first victory for Maddux in four appearances, and his second straight strong start after two disastrous outings in which he allowed 11 runs in 13 innings. Maddux allowed three runs in six innings, striking out seven on just 87 pitches.

“He’s been pitching pretty well the last couple games,” Blanco said. “Hopefully he figured out what he was doing wrong. I think you’ll see a different Maddux now.”

After Furcal’s homer, Atlanta made it 2-0 when Castilla doubled in Franco in the second.

The Cubs took a 3-2 lead after Alex Gonzalez hit a solo homer, his 12th, in the second. Giles misplayed an easy grounder to second base in the third that led to two more Chicago runs.

The Cubs got another shaky start out of Estes (6-8). The left-hander last 5 1-3 innings and gave up six runs on six hits and three walks. Estes is winless in his last six starts.

“Dealing with a hot team like that, there is just no room for error,” Estes said. “They hit every mistake I threw up there.”

Paul Bako led off the third with a slow grounder hit right at Giles, who bobbled it and couldn’t get off a throw for an error. Bako advanced to second on a bunt by Estes and scored on Tom Goodwin’s single. After an infield single by Mark Grudzielanek, Sammy Sosa hit an RBI single between Maddux’s legs.

Maddux said after the game he felt lucky to just get out of the way of Sosa’s liner.

“I’m not catching that one,” Maddux said. “I’m glad it missed me.”

Notes

Maddux, who began his career in Chicago and pitched seven seasons there, is 10-3 against the Cubs and 5-1 at Wrigley Field. … Franco has hit safely in 21 of 23 starts this season. He entered the game hitting .387 against left-handers, and was 2-for-3 against Estes. … Maddux has allowed 17 homers this season, three more than he gave up all of last year. … Castilla ishitting .322 lifetime against the Cubs with 22 home runs.

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